The Trojans may seem bigger than they really are!
The oddsmakers slapped a small number on the Bruins for obvious home court reasons, along with a perceived height imbalance on the perimeter. Hackett and Lewis are 6'5" and Taj Gibson is a handful, at 6'9", so the home team has the guns to compete with a Bruin team that is statistically smaller.
In general height, the Bruins are smaller. That's the height that "squares" see in their research. That's the "surface noise" that Vegas likes you to listen to.
"EFFECTIVE HEIGHT" is what we want to look for. And when you look at "effective height" you see a complete reversal in the level of strength between these two teams.
Why is UCLA small in the surface stats, but larger in the layered stats? THE ANSWER IS DEPTH!
Taj Gibson is great, because he can match up with anyone, and generally wear down his opponents and their reserve. He's just that strong! But when a team like UCLA comes into the fray and lobs 4 guys at him, then Taj becomes less EFFECTIVE.
In turn, UCLA uses their depth, on the bench, to make a strong man weaker, and when that strong man becomes weaker, those reserve players get even better numbers. So UCLA's 7 and 8 men become big producers with starter-like numbers.
That's why Malcolm Lee (Wing) and Drew Gordon (PF) are averaging 1.36 points per shot.
UCLA uses their bench more than 90% almost any team in the nation. That leaves the floor open to a guy like Gordon to blow up a star like Taj Gibson in the last 10 minutes of a game (or half).
This is a deadly fact!
UCLA uses their bench more than most, but USC almost NEVER relies on the bench to rest their players. THEY ARE ABOUT 18 SPOTS FROM BEING THE TEAM THAT USES THE BENCH THE LEAST IN THE NATION!
What does that tell you?
USC gets no production from the point guard, and gets most of their points from the Center, PF and Wing, so the size of USC, and this is essentially 3 or 4 guys, is going to have to match up with a revolving door of good frontcourt players and reserves.
This is a deadly advantage that most people miss. We have 2 points and an 11 man rotation (that is used!) going against an 8 man roster (that rarely seeks their reserves).
The talent to the 9th man in the UCLA system is very strong. Stronger than USC's 5th man.
The coach for USC is reluctant to lean on his bench.
The USC "bench" is hurt.
Leonard Washington, a monster freshman rebounder and efficiency beast is out for two weeks, so his 1.78 points per shot, and 6.1 rebounds are gone tonight. Marcus Johnson slides into his spot at 1.23 points per shot. HE DID NOT PLAY A SINGLE MINUTE UNTIL WASHINGTON WENT DOWN. What does that say for the level of confidence that USC has in this man? He has 16 points in 3 games.
In the 3 games before he went down, Washington scored 40 points.
Marcus Johnson would have been the 3rd option (IMO) if Kasey Cunningham hadn't gone down earlier in the season.
So the great Taj Gibson has very little backing him up, and he's facing a deep set of frontcourt specialists with UCLA.
Just look at Taj when he faces teams that can wear him down: ESPN has him listed at 10 rebounds per game on average with almost 16 points per game.
Missouri (a smaller, deeper team) ran Taj to death and he only managed 8 rebounds and 11 points.
Oregon ran him around and he only nabbed 6 rebounds and 13 points.
Oregon State held him to 4 rebounds and held him to 15 points.
Focus on the last two teams that I just posted!
Those were his last two games.
The loss of Washington is DEVASTATING. Without Washington, Gibson has to shoulder the entire load for that frontcourt. Taj Gibson played for 40 minutes in his last game! He has not done that all season long. You have a depth issue.
*This is just a small example of why we love UCLA tonight. USC also has 2 reserve guards that have missed the last 2 games. USC is not good in transition. And there are many more factors that lead us to this wager.
Go get UCLA!
Last night we grabbed....
UCLA at -2 (-110) at Bookmaker for 2-Units